In the coming year, several key themes will dominate Product Lifecycle Management strategies and will have a profound impact on how products will be designed, manufactured, delivered, and serviced in the coming decade:
Innovation (e.g. customer-led, science-led, software-driven)
Intelligence (e.g. "smarter" products and services)
Integration (e.g. PLM + ALM, PLM + SLM, PLM + MES, etc.)
First, the push for ever greater product and process innovation will continue to play a critical role in driving the development of "next-generation" products and services. Advances in materials science (esp. composite materials), and manufacturing (esp. 3D printing), as well as growth in the use of embedded software and sensors, will create new opportunities for innovation in product design and engineering, as well as service.
The result? Lighter weight, more fuel-efficient aircraft and automobiles, and improved product quality and service through predictive analytics. For example, GE recently unveiled a jet engine featuring 3D-printed fuel nozzles, and 4th generation carbon composite turbine blades that make the engine hundreds of pounds lighter. Jet engines are also increasingly being equipped with sensors to support predictive maintenance. Moreover, also driving innovation in product development will be the growth of customer-led innovation networks (e.g. the use of crowd-sourcing to identify and even to fund new product opportunities - e.g. GrabCAD, KickStarter), fueled by the rise of increasingly powerful and influential social media.
Second, the age of the "intelligent machine" has arrived, and is destined to become the norm - as evidenced by the proliferation of "smart" devices and the arrival of the "connected vehicle". These "smart" products present both opportunities and challenges for manufacturers of not only highly complex products, such as automobiles, aircraft or industrial machinery - but for the creators of high performance electronics such as "smart" medical devices, phones, watches, tablets, toys, and even fashion accessories. While the market opportunities presented by such products are extremely attractive, the quality, compliance, and safety requirements demanded by these products is also paramount. Here, manufacturers of "smart" products and devices must be able to effectively track and manage the development of the embedded software and components, alongside core mechanical, electrical/electronic components, in order to ensure overall product quality and to mitigate risk.
Third, in order to enable such innovation, the ability to collaborate will be key. Across the product lifecycle, PLM will be increasingly tasked with driving innovation by supporting collaboration and integration among disparate disciplines and functions, as well as globally-dispersed product design, marketing, sales, and manufacturing teams. Moreover, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) will need to evolve to become more "software-driven" and more "service-centric", and the tools will need to reflect this. In order to compete, manufacturers will increasingly require a tighter integration between enterprise software offerings such as PLM + ALM (Application Lifecycle Management), and PLM + SLM (Service Lifecycle Management).
While the opportunities to innovate will be great - many manufacturers will continue to struggle to strike an appropriate innovation/reuse balance in product development. Here, selecting and prioritizing the "right" innovation and correct allocation of resources is critical. A key factor in this decision-making process is the Vitality-Stability Balance. That is, achieving a balance between vitality driven by innovation to exploit new markets and product opportunities, and stability facilitated by using well-honed business practices and an experienced workforce. Here, as leaders demonstrate, the ability to support innovation through reuse - of both tangible and intangible assets (e.g. intellectual property) offers a significant advantage.
Your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree? What are you experiencing at your company? Write to me at email@example.com, or include your comments below.
Another key message for 2014? "PLM must evolve as the definition of the product evolves..." To learn more, check out our recent 2014 PLM and After Sales Service webcast, at: http://bit.ly/IDCMI_PLM_Predictions2014.